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Dodgers' Justin Turner has been durable despite underwhelming statistics

Dodgers' Justin Turner has been durable despite underwhelming statistics
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (10) and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez celebrate with a 'selfie' after Turner hit a home run against the Blue Jays in the eighth inning May 7. (Fred Thornhill / Canadian Press via AP)

For all the concern over his surgically repaired left knee, Justin Turner has been plenty durable this season. He has started all but eight of the Dodgers' 55 games, batting in the second, third and fourth spots in the lineup.

He entered play Friday batting .225.

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"The reason I still have him at the top is because he finds a way to get on base," Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said. "He's one of our top guys getting on base."

Turner has a .327 on-base percentage, down from .370 last year. His OPS is .656, down from .861 last year. He is on pace to hit nine home runs.

"I know he expects more slug and extra-base hits," Roberts said. "But still, getting on base at the top of the order is a part of the equation."

It is not as if Turner is the sole underachiever in the lineup. Of the eight position players in Friday's lineup, three — Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson and Carl Crawford — had a lower on-base percentage than Turner. So did all four players on the bench: Yasiel Puig, Howie Kendrick, Enrique Hernandez and A.J. Ellis.

Still, the Dodgers need Turner to resemble the dynamic hitter he was in each of the previous two seasons. Roberts said Turner is hitting too many fly balls to the opposite field, rather than pulling them to maximize his power.

According to Fangraphs, Turner hit 25% of balls in play to the opposite field last year, 35% this year. He is hitting fewer line drives and more pop flies, but his 30% hard-hit rate is in line with his 32% last year.

"I'm still taking good at-bats," Turner said. "I still feel good in the box. I'm hitting a lot of balls hard. I just don't have a lot to show for it.

"I know when I'm doing things right and just not getting results, versus not doing things right and needing to make an adjustment. It's kind of like a pendulum. It's swinging right now to negative results, but once it starts swinging back the other way, I could get real hot, real fast."

Turner said none of his issues at the plate reflect renewed trouble with his knee.

"The knee feels great," he said. "If there were any setbacks or problems or aches, they would be giving me a few more days."

An extended slump could be costly for the 31-year-old Turner. He is eligible for free agency this fall; the other projected third basemen in the free-agent class include Martin Prado and Luis Valbuena. The Dodgers' third basemen have a .587 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, the lowest of any major league team at that position.

Puig to DL

For the third time in 14 months, Yasiel Puig is on the disabled list because of a strained hamstring.

The Dodgers activated outfielder Scott Van Slyke on Friday and put Puig on the DL with a strained left hamstring. He sat out 39 games last season with a strained left hamstring and 34 games with a strained right hamstring.

Puig, 25, is batting .237 in 53 games this season, with five home runs and a .283 OBP.

In his first 10 games this season, he hit .405, with five walks and six strikeouts. In his subsequent 43 games, he hit .195, with four walks and 37 strikeouts.

Urias in L.A.?

Phenom Julio Urias is scheduled to make his Dodger Stadium debut Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies, although Roberts declined to rule out a roster move for another starting pitcher before then. Urias, 19, made his major league debut on the road, posting a 9.39 earned-run average in two starts.

Those starts came against the hearty lineups of the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. Roberts said he did not believe the team erred by not scheduling Urias' debut for a home game, and perhaps against a softer opponent.

"When you're talking about major league hitters and major league ballparks, there's really no soft landing," Roberts said.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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